Although David Benavidez was dropped by a left hook in the final round (more of a balance shot than a really damaging blow), the 20-year old still became boxing's youngest current titleholder as well as the youngest man ever to win a piece of the super middleweight title by capturing the WBC belt vacated by Badou Jack (who was at ringside) via a split decision that probably should have been unanimous.
Aside from that brief tumble, Benavidez, who was challenged as never before by Gavril, still came up big in the "championship rounds" as he out-landed Ronald Gavril 66-35 overall and 53-14 power in rounds 11 and 12. Both men showed better defense than expected as Benavidez led 26%-20% overall, 19%-18% jabs and 30%-23% power, but it was still a highly entertaining battle.
Gavril led 67-54 in landed body shots and both averaged well above the super middleweight average (71.9 per round for Benavidez, 68.1 for Benavidez. Scoring: 116-111 Benavidez (Adalaide Byrd), 116-111 Gavril (Glenn Trowbridge) and 117-111 Benavidez (Dave Morretti)
At 20 years, 9 months old, David Benavidez became boxing’s youngest world champion – and the youngest ever in the super middleweight division – with a split decision victory over Ronald Gavril on Friday night on an exciting night of 168-pound action on SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Photo by Miguel Salazar.
Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) placed the previously vacated WBC Super Middleweight belt around his waist after winning the title against former European amateur standout Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) in what Benavidez later described as quite possibly the “Fight of the Year.” One scorecard had Gavril winning 116-111, with Benavidez winning on the other two scorecards, 116-111 and 117-111 in the event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
“It feels amazing to win this title,” said the Phoenix resident Benavidez. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to and I’ve worked hard for. It finally paid off.”